Wenger’s Arsenal: A club in crisis?

Published 5:38 PM EST, Sun December 2, 2012

Story highlights

Arsenal chairman recovering in hospital after suffering a heart attack on Friday

Club crashed to defeat on Saturday, increasing pressure on manager Arsene Wenger

Frenchman criticized by fans and a former player after poor results this season

Ex-Arsenal star Emmanuel Eboue says the club's board has "abused the fans"

(CNN) —  

Embarrassing defeats, criticism from fans and former players, a major health scare for its long-serving chairman – Arsenal’s season is not getting any easier.

The English Premier League club’s stalwart figurehead Peter Hill-Wood is recovering in hospital after suffering a heart attack the day before Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat at home to Swansea.

It left the 13-time English champions 10th in the 20-team EPL after 15 games, continuing Arsenal’s worst start to a season since 1994.

Hill-Wood had been suffering pneumonia and was taken ill at home on Friday, the London side’s website reported on Sunday.

“He is making a good recovery. The club wishes Peter a full and speedy return to health and our thoughts are with him and his family at this time,” read a statement on Arsenal.com.

The 76-year-old has been Arsenal’s chairman since 1982, following in the footsteps of his father Denis and his grandfather Samuel, who twice held the role in spells between 1929 and 1949.

“Even if u are not a fan of #Peter Hill-Wood … wishing him full recovery. He & his family gave so much to #Arsenal in the past!” one Arsenal supporter wrote on Twitter.

Manager Arsene Wenger and the club’s board are coming under increasing criticism from fans, who are unhappy that top players such as Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas have been allowed to leave in recent years.

Emmanuel Eboue, who was sold to Turkish side Galatasaray last season, also made his feelings known on Twitter after the Swansea defeat

“Why have we destroyed the club we love so much. The set of players we have now are like chicken fillet. #Arsenal board have abused the fans,” the Ivory Coast international said.

“Some of the players need to be stoned off the pitch. No brain, no passion, no soul. The Arsenal glory days are fading fast. We need help.

“The only way to put pressure on the board is by fans not coming to the stadium. Low revenue would worry the board and put pressure on boss.”

One of the club’s celebrity fans, CNN’s Piers Morgan, also had harsh words for Wenger – the club’s longest serving manager, with 11 trophies since he joined in 1996 but none since 2005.

“That was the single worst performance of Wenger’s reign. It’s over – he must go before he wrecks his great legacy,” Morgan wrote on Twitter, where he has set up the hashtag #WengerOut.

“Wenger must go, for his sake and for the club’s.”

Wenger’s team have already qualified for the last 16 of the European Champions League, but the Frenchman is looking for a morale-boosting result in Tuesday’s final Group B game away to Greek side Olympiakos.

“It’s important for us. Away from home, I’m not too concerned,” the 63-year-old said.

“We look like we play a little bit with the handbrake at home. It’s not fluent. There might be a psychological component in there as well.

“At home we have not produced the performances since the beginning of the season that you would expect from us, and that is where we have to find the solution.”

Arsenal announced last month that major sponsor Emirates had agreed a new $240 million deal until 2019 for shirt rights and 2028 for stadium naming, but that money will not be available for Wenger to bolster his squad until midway through next year.

When asked if he had plans to make major signings in the January transfer window, Wenger kept his cards close to his chest.

“I believe the support from the board is there to spend the money if we find the players,” he said.

Another manager under pressure is Martin O’Neill, whose Sunderland team remained just a point above the relegation zone after losing 2-1 to Norwich in Sunday’s only Premier League fixture.

The former Aston Villa, Celtic and Leicester boss, who was a European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest as a player, was frustrated after the result left his side with just two wins from 14 games.

“We started off very tentatively – the first goal we conceded was poor and the second was even worse,” the Northern Irishman said.

“We should have taken something from the game. It’s very frustrating to come away with nothing.”